Luc Besson first premiered some footage at the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con. This footage received a standing ovation from the crowd in Hall H.
With a final production budget of EUR197.47 million, around $210 million in United States currency, the film is officially the most expensive ever made in France, significantly exceeding the budget of the previous record holder, Asterix at the Olympic Games (2008), which cost EUR102 million ($113 million). Twenty years earlier, director Luc Besson made The Fifth Element (1997), which was the most expensive French movie at the time with a budget of EUR90 million ($100 million).
Luc Besson deliberately chose to shoot the film, an adaptation of a French comic, in English with English-speaking actors in order to raise its chances of a wider audience.
The film is based on the French science fiction comics series Valérian and Laureline, written by Pierre Christin and illustrated by Jean-Claude Mézières.
The futuristic New York City in Luc Besson's previous film The Fifth Element (1997) was visually inspired by "The Circles of Power", the fifteenth volume in the "Valérian and Laureline" comic series.
There are 200 different alien species in this movie. Luc Besson wrote a 600 page book describing in details all the species. The actors had to read that book prior to filming so they can adjust their acting depending on the species they were interacting with.
The two first trailers use the song "Because" by the Beatles. It is the very first time a film director could obtain the rights for using a Beatles song in a movie advertisement. Permission was granted by Paul McCartney.
Weta Digital and ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) have previously worked together on Contact (1997), Van Helsing (2004), Eragon (2006) and Avatar (2009), making Valérian and the City of a Thousand Planets their fifth collaboration.
There are 2734 special effect shots in this movie compared to "only" 188 in 'The Fifth Element (1997)' ("See you in space" featurette).
The main storyline is loosely based on "Ambassador of the Shadows", the sixth album in the comic book series. This was also the first Valerian story to be translated in English.
Luc Besson chose not to shoot the movie in 3D because 3D cameras are too heavy for his style of filming like running behind an actor or unusual angles of filming.
Cara Delevingne worked out for several months to get in shape for her role as Laureline.
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